Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life.
After the Partitions, Kaunas was one of the centres of the November Uprising (1830–1831) and the January Uprising (1863–1864). To suppress the local population, the Russian authorities subsequently established the Kaunas Prison and placed a huge military garrison in the town. The Russian military fortifications from that time still survive throughout the town.
Prior to the Second World War, Kaunas, like many other cities in eastern Europe, had a significant Jewish population. According to the Russian census of 1897, Jews numbered 25,500, 35.3% of the total of 73,500.The population was also 25.8% Russian, 22.7% Polish, 6.6% Lithuanian.
After the proclamation of Lithuanian independence in 1990, Soviet attempts to suppress the rebellion focused on the Sitkūnai Radio Station. They were defended by the citizenry of Kaunas. Pope John Paul II made the Holy Mass for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Kaunas at the Kaunas Cathedral Basilica and held the meeting with the young people of Lithuania at S. Darius and S. Girėnas Stadium, during his visit to Lithuania in 1993.
- Kaunas Cathedral Basilica The exact date when the first Gothic style church dedicated to apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, was built is unknown, but it was first mentioned in written sources in 1413. The construction works were concluded only in 1624. The church greatly suffered from wars in 1655 and was rebuilt in 1671 and gained some Renaissance features. Only one of the towers was rebuilt after the fire of the roof in 1732. As a part of renovation, the internal decorations were funded by the King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1771. The main altar, a lectern and a choir were installed by Tomasz Podhajski in 1775. The present day shape of the building is from 1800 renovation. Тhе bishop of Samogitia, historian and one of the best known Lithuanian writers of the 19th century Motiejus Valančius was interred in a crypt of the church in 1875. The church was promoted to cathedral status by Pope Leo XIII in 1895. It received the Basilica title in 1926, when the Diocese of Samogitia was reorganized into the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kaunas by Pope Pius XI. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Lithuania.
- The Town Hall of Kaunas stands in the middle of the Town Hall Square at the heart of the Old Town. The structure dates from the 16th century. It houses a Museum of Ceramics. The construction of Kaunas town hall started in 1542. At first it was a one-storey building with not daubed facade and vaulting cellars. In the 16th century the first floor was build and the eight storey tower was built in the east of the building. The ground floor was adjusted for trading and prison guards, the first floor - for trial, magistrate, treasure, archive and office. Cellars were used to store the goods. The cellars of the tower were used as a prison.
- House of Perkūnas is one of the most original and archaic Gothic secular buildings, located in the Old Town. Originally built by Hanseatic merchants and served as their office from 1440 till 1532, it was sold in the 16th century to the Jesuits who had established a chapel there in 1643. The Jesuits have also completed the Church of St. Francis Xavier at the Town Hall Square in 1722. The ruined house was rebuilt in the 19th century and served as a school and theatre, which was attended by Polish-Lithuanian poet Adam Mickiewicz. At the end of the 19th Century it was renamed "House of Perkūnas", when a figure, interpreted by the romantic historians of that time as an idol of the Baltic pagan god of thunder and the sky Perkūnas was found in one of its walls. Today, the house of Perkūnas once again belongs to the Jesuits and houses a museum of Adam Mickiewicz.
- The Vytautas the Great War Museum It was opened on 16 February 1936 and named after Vytautas the Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania. The museum displays historical artefacts pertaining to Lithuania and Kaunas from prehistoric times to the present day, including a large collection of historical weapons. There are expositions dedicated to the military skills of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great Chapel, collections of weapons, firearms, ammunition, army uniforms of various states, defense of the Kaunas Fortress in 1915, and others. The airplane Lituanica, on which Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1933, is on display and remains a popular exhibition.
- Kaunas Castle Archeological evidence suggests that it was originally built during the mid-14th century, in the Gothic style. Its site is strategic – a rise on the banks of the Nemunas River near its confluence with the Neris River. At the beginning of the 21st century, about one-third of the castle was still standing. The precise construction date of the first Kaunas Castle is unknown. Archeological data suggests that a stone castle was built on the site during the middle of the 14th century. Situated on an elevated bank near the river junction about 100 kilometers (62 mi) from the capital city of Vilnius, it served as a strategic outpost and guarded nearby cities as well as trade routes. Today the round tower of Kaunas Castle houses an art gallery. The castle is open to tourism, and hosts occasional festivals. Major reconstruction work started in 2010.